On the Top Note by A.G. Gardiner
In On the Top Note by A.G. Gardiner we have the theme of exaggeration, language, connection, alienation and control. Taken from his Many Furrows collection the reader realises after reading the essay that Gardiner may be exploring the theme of exaggeration. Pamela appears to like exaggerating things when it comes to her use of words. Something that annoys Reginald who is sparse when it comes to language. This may be significant as Gardiner may be suggesting that there is no need to use rich or extravagant language in conversation when a simpler word will suffice. So negative are Reginald’s thoughts about Pamela’s language usage that he even considers breaking off their engagement. Something to which Gardiner can understand as he too prefers simplicity when it comes to language. Gardiner also quotes Johnson to highlight this point with regard to using simple language. Like Reginald, Johnson too is irritated by Boswell’s use of language. If anything Gardiner may be suggesting that some people use language to express themselves in a different and in their eyes better manner. When the reality is there is no need to do so.
It may also be a case that Pamela and Boswell wish to control a conversation by using language that is difficult to understand. It may give them a feeling of self-importance. That they are better than others. If this is the case than Pamela is only going to isolate herself further form Reginald. Who likes to use short and simple language when describing something. It is easier to understand Reginald than it is Pamela. Which leaves the reader to suspect that a connection with Reginald is also easier to make. Nobody wants to be bamboozled by a conversation in whereby they do not understand what is being said to them. It only leads to a person feeling alienated from their companion. As Reginald might feel. Reginald is not only annoyed with Pamela but he is also considering ending the relationship due to her language usage. Though some critics might suggest this is a rather harsh step to take. It highlights how strongly Reginald feels about the situation. If anything Reginald is irritated by Pamela’s word usage and her affinity to adjectives.
What is also interesting about the essay is the fact that Gardiner can see both Reginald and Pamela’s side of the argument. Though when it comes to Pamela Gardiner appears to be swayed by her beauty and may not necessarily be thinking with a clear mind. If anything he may forgive Pamela for her word usage easier than he would Reginald. Also the setting is interesting as the entire essay takes place on a bus. A place where ones imagination can run freely and Gardiner’s imagination does run freely when he imagines that Reginald is sitting in front of him explaining to his friend why he dislikes Pamela. Though it is a simple thing language is important and can define or break a relationship. As can be seen by Reginald’s reaction to Pamela. He may very well love her however he values language more than he does love. Something that Gardiner does not mention in the essay. He limits himself to the usage of language and its importance in a relationship.
The end of the essay is interesting as Gardiner suggests that Reginald only wants Pamela to be less enthusiastic when it comes to her use of words. If she could confine herself a little Reginald thinks things will be okay. The only problem with this is the fact that language is a form of expression and by containing herself Pamela may not only become a more difficult person to understand but she may also become unhappy. She relies on language to express herself and if she follows Reginald’s lead she will surely be unable to express herself in a manner that she feels is befitting. It may not be Reginald’s intention to stifle or hinder Pamela but that is exactly what he would be doing. She will end up becoming more robotic than human. If anything language is a method of expressing oneself and one should be allowed to use language as they see fit. However there is one down side to this. The person you are talking to may not necessarily understand what you are saying. For safety’s sake it is better to gauge your companion and assess what type of language you can use in conversation with them. In that way there will be no misgivings or misunderstandings.